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BYU’s Devin Kaufusi enters transfer portal, tight end Alema Pilimai moves to fill his vacated spot

Cougars coach Kalani Sitake declines to list the reasons Kaufusi gave for leaving, but says the player from a BYU legacy family is welcome to return

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BYU defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi walks and narrates with a 360-degree camera with linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi during football media day in Provo on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Devin Kaufusi has entered the transfer portal and is no longer practicing with the team.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — It is highly likely that there will be one fewer Kaufusi to keep track of for BYU football fans this fall, head coach Kalani Sitake confirmed after the fifth spring football practice Monday.

Devin Kaufusi, a rising junior defensive end, entered the transfer portal after the Cougars’ four practices last week. Kaufusi is the younger brother of former BYU defensive standouts Bronson and Corbin Kaufusi and son of former BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi.

Sitake said it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk specifically about Devin Kaufusi on Monday, but acknowledged that former tight end Alema Pilimai has been moved to defensive end and will compete for playing time in the spot vacated by Kaufusi.

“There are always a variety of reasons (for transfers),” Sitake said. “I think I am going to respect him and allow him to share that if that is what he wants.”

While many coaches across the country, including Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, have said that once a player enters the transfer portal he is no longer welcome back, Sitake does not share that philosophy. Defensive back Beau Tanner and linebacker-turned-fullback Johnny “Ku-J” Tapusoa are among those who returned.

“For us, and what we want to accomplish here, there are a lot of guys who want to be here and want to represent BYU,” Sitake said. “I am also OK with the guys who don’t want to be here. We will work with the guys who want to be here and want to help us win.”

Devin Kaufusi, who is also the son of Provo mayor Michelle Kaufusi, served a German-speaking mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe (Alpine Mission). He started in three games and played in 25 the past two seasons, recording 15 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups.

“There are always a variety of reasons (for transfers). I think I am going to respect him and allow him to share that if that is what he wants.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake

The Kaufusi name is synonymous with BYU, so the probable departure is surprising, said one of Devin Kaufusi’s best friends on the team, running back Lopini Katoa.

“I guess I really didn’t see it coming,” Katoa said. “If it is better for him, I wish him the best.”

Devin Kaufusi has two cousins who remain on the team, linebacker Isaiah and Jackson Kaufusi, who are brothers. Jackson Kaufusi recently moved from linebacker to running back.

The Cougars lacked playmaking pass-rushers last season, but Devin Kaufusi could never really seize the position and make it his own. Pilimai will attempt to do that, along with returners Zac Dawe and Uriah Leiataua.

“Everyone who has left here and entered the portal, it has always been a positive conversation,” Sitake said. “If they don’t want to be here, then it is not going to work. It doesn’t mean it has to be a negative thing. I care about them, and if I care about them, then I would like to see them have success somewhere else.”

In other personnel news, former walk-on running back Tyler Allgeier confirmed Monday that he has been put on scholarship.